In response to The Compulsive Confessor.
Kochi aka Cochin aka Ernakulam, my city, my home and the place I want to be for the rest of my life. Now if you think all three names are the same place then you will be disappointed to know that it is not. My cousin finds it amusing that a place can have three different names. Ernakulam is the district, but Ernakulam is not Cochin or Kochi. Kochi is a smaller area in Ernakulam. Cochin is just the old name, given by the British. Now the old name, Kochi has been restored, following the current trend. (Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata etc, etc.)
And some others think that Kochi is a bad place to be. Nothing could be further from the truth. Kochi is as safe and as dangerous as any other place on Earth. I am of course not including those places like Iraq, Afghanistan or New York City, where people are killed because they are American or killed because they are American (Sic!).
Some think that Kerala as a whole and Kochi in particular is the lands of lechers, that women are not safe without covering their whole body. They think that men wear lungis all the time and roam around waiting for a chance to flash themselves. Now that is definitely funny to anyone who knows the land and its people. Most people wear trousers and even those few who wear lungis donâ€™t wear them with the intention of showing themselves to the women all over. I do agree that men stare a bit at girls, but then where donâ€™t they do that. I am not sure what women all over the world do, but men all over the world do look at girls, and not always with lust.
Yes, we Keralites are conservative, but at the same time not ultra conservative. There are times when I think that we are too conservative for our own good, but then, it is one of the things that make us what we are. If anyone from India were to visit a nude beach, then what do you think their reaction would be? It is just the degree of conservatism that most find difficult to understand.
We are a society were boys are made of all things naughty and girls are made of all things sweet. But that is not to say that we are all naughty or all sweet. Keralites who live in other states and countries are quick to adapt to the lifestyle of the particular place as well as anyone, and most often than not, much better than most people.
I am not trying to defend my people or my State; they donâ€™t need to be defended against such baseless opinions. All I am trying to do is, bring to focus what remains blurred. That is, every society, every community and every state has their own culture, their own rules, and their own common behavior. Just because someone is different does not mean that they are bad or good. It just means they are different. If you find it difficult to adjust with it, itâ€™s not the problem with them; itâ€™s the problem with you. Even saying problem is not right, it is the struggle between cultures when there is an attempt to merge.
If you think that it is difficult to assimilate the culture of Kerala, then let us take a look at the very heart of the state. Not the capital, Trivandrum, but the Judicial and commercial capital, Kochi. This is one of those rarest places where you will find as many different cultures as you can see at any other place; Sikhs, Parsies, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Christians etc, etc. You will also see people from all states as well as Anglo-Indians, mingle together, practice their religion side by side and share the festivals of each other as their own. This is the place Jews were welcomed first, with open arms, not because of what they could provide, but because they needed a place. And they became part of the culture.
I could go on praising the virtues of the land, the people and the culture. But the point is, we are just like anyone else on Earth, but still hanging on to the banks of the river where the current is slow.
And to conclude:
When in Romeâ€¦